As December rolls around, there’s no shortage of holiday movies to get you in the festive spirit. But let’s be honest—the classics are a little overdone. Somewhere in between the 10th viewing of Elf and reruns of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you crave some variety. We’re here to offer that with a couple of alternative holiday movies that are sure to become classics—or will at least break up the yearly flood of sentimentality and good cheer.
Best F(r)iends (2017)
Best F(r)iends is a bit of an odd duck. Being produced by The Room’s Greg Sestero and starring the ever enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, it’s reasonable to expect a cynical retread of the “worst film ever made” cult classic that made Wiseau an icon. But against all odds, it has managed to build on the legacy of Wiseau’s unintentionally hilarious magnum opus to become a far different work of art. Part noir crime flick, part platonic romcom, and part Greek tragedy, Best F(r)iends is one of the most compelling holiday movies to come out this century.
Set in the Christmas season, the dime store production value of The Room has been replaced with something resembling a real budget. The scenes are eclectic, yet the plot serves as an oddly thoughtful mirror on Wiseau’s role, both in the film and in pop culture. Cast as a contemplative, empathetic, and entirely unhinged mortician, the movie captures all the elements that makes Wiseau such a compelling figure to his fans. The beautiful thing is that the piece doesn’t try to turn Wiseau into anything he is not. The campy overacting, the questionably improvised lines, and the baffling hodgepodge of character traits that made The Room a midnight-movie feature are still there. But Best F(r)iends channels that energy into a brilliant commentary on the complexity of human relationships and the paradoxical joy of finding a place to belong as a social outsider.
Contrary to public expectations, Best F(r)iends never set out to mock Wiseau. Instead, it serves as an endearing homage to one of the world’s most misunderstood artistic minds.
—Eric Davison, Fulcrum Freelancer.
BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish (2014)
If you’re like me and love Christmas but relate heavily to the Grinch who stole it, then this is the Christmas special for you. BoJack Horseman doesn’t shy away from hard truths and heavy topics, marking its place as a beloved black dramedy. This show, about a washed-up anthropomorphic horse, knows that not everything is sunshine and rainbows, and its Christmas special reflects this perfectly.
While the narcissistic horse would usually love to watch himself in his old 90s television series, he refuses to watch its Christmas episode, saying that he hates Christmas specials, to which his friend Todd brilliantly replies, “because the themes of family and togetherness are a chilling reminder of your own isolation?”
This is but one of many excellent lines in tone with the show’s nature of accurately depicting everything we feel, but often can’t express openly.
BoJack eventually gives in, (“hooray begrudging acquiescence!”) and watches his old Christmas special. The premise of Horsin’ Around’s episode is a faithful parody of classic 90s shows (think Full House). It sees Sabrina, a young human orphan that BoJack’s character adopted, celebrating Christmas for the first time. Contrasting the darkness of Bojack Horseman with puns, cheesy catchphrases, and a family friendly lesson, this holiday special will give you those tingly nostalgic feels without making you want to puke.
I mean, I’ve heard of good holiday specials, but this is ridiculous!
Take it from a Zoe, if this thing warmed my cold, dead heart, it will definitely melt yours.
BoJack Horseman is currently streaming its fourth season on Netflix.
—Anchal Sharma, News Editor.
For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls (2010)
The holiday episode of American Dad’s seventh season, For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls, has the traditionally jolly figure of Santa Claus getting revenge on the Smith family for murdering him in a mall parking lot and burying him in the woods. After being hunted down to an old moonshiner’s farm in the pursuit of both a safe hiding place and the strongest alcohol on the planet, the family must band together to survive to see the sunrise on Christmas Day. As weird as it sounds, a story that sees Santa use a sniper rifle, reindeer attack sleds, and monstrous snowmen really is a tale of a family coming together, putting aside their grievances, and stabbing elves with sharpened candy canes. Isn’t that what the holidays are really about?
—David Campion-Smith, Opinions Editor.